Srinagar, Jan 01: The Lethpora fidayeen attack, which left three militants and five CRPF personnel dead, has sent alarm bells ringing from Srinagar to New Delhi.
The involvement of a young local militant, who also happened to be the son of a serving cop, has put forth the troubling reality of South Kashmir, an area that refuses to relent despite soft and hard power being applied in abundance.
The deceased militant identified as teenager Fardeen Khanday also recorded a 7-minute-long video message which popped up on social media after his death.
As expected, Fardeen had already chronicled his own death in the video and also made a call to arms in it.
Security experts privately admit that the video will do more harm than the attack on Lethpora camp as it makes Fardeen into a “martyr” for everyone who is inclined towards militancy.
“We now have a local fidayeen. A young local boy who managed to infiltrate into a CRPF camp and cause heavy damage. Moreover, his last message was tailor made of his age group. This is worrying. It will add to our problems. To be honest, I personally am out of ideas,” said a top police officer on condition of anonymity.
Senior broadcast journalist Mufti Islah wrote on a website: “Kashmiri militants have seldom posed as fidayeens though on a few occasions they have carried out suicide attacks, including one with a human bomb just outside the main entrance of the Army headquarters in Srinagar. Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba — architects of fidayeen attacks — appoint Pakistani militants to carry out such deadly strikes because they are better equipped for the job with rigorous training and judicious use of ammunition. However, in a major departure, it looks like Jaish has laid their trust on the local cadre”.
A close analysis of two hotbeds, Pulwama in south and Hajin in north, throws up startling results.
In both the areas, militancy has returned and is thriving. More so in Hajin, an area which was once home of the counter insurgency movement.
In both the areas, there seems to be a total lack of political engagement on behalf of the Government and total rejection of reconciliation on behalf by the local population.
“It is a paradox. It is almost as if young boys have developed a death wish. No amount of development or jobs seem to provide any breathing space. It’s almost like talking to walls. It’s also true that most of rural Kashmir lives a heavily militarized and generally a very depressing life where faultiness between us and them have only widened. Many are seeking relief in the form of violence,” says another top officer posted in a very sensitive area.
“Since 1947, the state has not been able to give round-the-clock electricity. How do you intend to win over people whom you have denied basic amenities of life,” the officer added.
Both these districts – Pulwama and Bandipora – have a very strong presence in the state Government with two most high profile ministries of Finance and Roads and Building belonging to them.
In 2014, Assembly and General Elections, both these districts, particularly the youth had voted in large numbers. The same youth today are a cause of anxiety for the Government as their anger and alienation on the ground is unrelenting.
Petitions against Article 370: May consider referring issue to 7-judge bench later: SC
New Delhi, Dec 12: The Supreme Court Thursday indicated it may consider the question of referring the issue of challenge to the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, to a larger 7-judge bench after hearing the preliminary submission of all the parties.
The top court’s remarks came after some of the parties, challenging the Centre’s decision of abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution, said there were two conflicting decisions by a 5-judge bench of apex court given in 1959 and 1970.
The provisions were abrogated by the Centre on August 5. “We may consider the question of referring the matter to larger bench only after hearing the preliminary submission of all the parties,” a five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.
During the hearing, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for some of the parties against the Centre’s decision, said that court should first hear the parties who are challenging the abrogation and then hear the counsels seeking reference to a larger bench. The bench, also comprising Justices Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said the question of referring it to 7-judge bench will be considered by it at a later stage after all the parties complete their preliminary submissions.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, Shehla Rashid and other petitioners resumed his arguments and said that in the scheme of Article 370, while the democratic power is with the State, the executive power is with the Union government. He said that the constituent power of Jammu and Kashmir (expressed through its elected government as concurrence or as a recommendation of the Constituent Assembly) is the central principle observed in all the cases dealt by the apex court on the issue of Article 370.
“Therefore, since it is the State of J&K that has constituent powers over its own constitutional framework as well as a role in determining the constitutional relationship of the State with the Union, it is the State of J&K which can democratically decide how its constituent powers can be exercised in accordance with its Constitution,” he added. Replying to yesterday’s question of the bench, as who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370, “it is only the State of J&K that can decide who will be a successor to the Constituent Assembly of the State, who may wield constituent powers in future”.
Ramachandaran said that in the present instance instead of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was the union government acting through the President that decided how the constituent power of the Constituent Assembly under Article 370(3) would be exercised – by modifying Article 367(4) in Presidential order. “Therefore, this act of the President is ultra vires his powers under the self-contained code that is Article 370. This part of the challenge thus may not be subsumed under the question of the President’s powers under Article 356,” he said.
Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for petitioner Prem Shankar Jha, said there are two conflicting judgements given by the five-judge of the apex court in 1959 in Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir and in 1970 in Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir. He sought referring of the matter to the larger 7-judge bench for a definite findings.
The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on January 21, 2020. On Wednesday, the top court had raised a query as to who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The top court, also raised the point that if the decision rested with people then will it be a case of “referendum, concurrence or consultation”. The petitioners have referred to the constitutional provision and said that only the Constituent Assembly, which represents the will of the people, is empowered to make recommendation to the President on any changes in the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ramachandaran had contended that President could have only abrogated provisions of Article 370 only on recommendation of the Constituent assembly, which represented the will of the people of the state. He had said the two presidential orders issued with regard to abrogation of Article 370 have completely flouted the tenets of basic structure of the Constitution of India.
Earlier, Ramachandaran had argued that the Centre’s decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 was “unconstitutional” since people of Jammu and Kashmir were “bypassed” and any proposal for altering the constitutional status of the erstwhile state should emanate from the citizens there. A number of petitions have been filed in the matter including that of private individuals, lawyers, activists and political parties and they have also challenged the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, which splits J&K into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Hostels locked in KU: 2000 students from far off areas left in lurch
Srinagar, Dec 12: More than 2000 students have been left to fend for themselves after University of Kashmir arbitrarily locked hostels in the campus.
For the last three months, Kashmir University had been shut due to uncertainty post Article 370 abrogation. However, few days ago, University resumed classwork without extending hostel facilities to students of far flung areas.
“I have to travel from Bandipora district to attend my classes in Kashmir University. I can’t come daily because I have to shell out Rs 300-400 for my travel expenses. I used to stay in hostel before August 5. Post abrogation of Article 370, all hostels have been shut,” said Amina Shafi, an aggrieved student.
Another student Basit Wani said it is not possible for him to travel every day from his home at Kulgam.
“I was looking for a rented accommodation in the vicinity of Kashmir University. I was shocked to know that monthly rentals range from Rs 8000 to 10,000, which I could not afford. It is very difficult for students of far flung areas to attend classes every day,” he noted.
Provost Kashmir University, Sheikh Ajaz and Dean Academic Affairs, Professor Akbar Masood refused to comment.
Media spokesperson, Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said a small percentage of students stay in hostels while rest of them are either from Srinagar city or stay in private accommodation outside the varsity. “We have limited hostel accommodation here,” he said
Shahid said currently the attendance is very thin and when the classwork starts properly, hostels will be thrown open.
“Let students come and talk to the warden. We have to make heating, cooking and other arrangement for students who stay in the hostel. Class representatives should talk to the respective departments,” he said.
Police buy modern weapons to take on militants
Srinagar, Dec 12: Modern weapon system, state-of-the-art forensic equipment, portable bullet proof jackets and light weight helmets are the new tools of Jammu and Kashmir police to take on militants in the Union Territory.
Under Modernization of Police Forces (MPF)’ scheme, Centre has released Rs 83 crore to Jammu and Kashmir police in the last two years to purchase modern weapons and upgrade infrastructure in different police stations.
The main objective of MPF is to gradually reduce the dependence of states and union territories on the Army and Central Armed Police Forces to fight militancy and deal with law and order situations.
Official data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that Centre provided Rs 769 crore and Rs 811 crore to all states and union territories for 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively. Of which Jammu and Kashmir has received Rs 83 crore.
The new Union Territory is only behind Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which received Rs 131 crore and Rs 98 crore respectively under MPF.
Sources said money was released to Jammu and Kashmir police so that they are able to face the challenges of internal security, deal with law and order situations and fight militancy in an effective manner
A senior police official said Jammu and Kashmir has already purchased modern weaponry, bullet proof jackets and helmets under the scheme over the last two years.
“Jammu and Kashmir police has also been able to purchase equipment for forensics and cyber cell. It has also raised height of walls of over 100 police stations as a security measure,” he said.
Special focus has been laid on technical up-gradation including installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTVs) in and around police stations of the Srinagar city. Plus toilets have also been built in more than 200 police stations.
“All these measures are being taken to combat militancy. Government wants J&K police to be well equipped and better trained to deal with the situation,” he said.
There are around 100,000 police personnel in Jammu and Kashmir who have been dealing with the law and order situation and fighting militancy.
Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had criticized J&K government for providing “poor infrastructure and lack of basic facilities for the state police force that needs it the most in the country”.